Manchester United are receiving help from the United Kingdom’s cyber security agency after it suffered a cyber attack earlier this month.
The attack, which was confirmed on November 20, has left United unable to fully restore its computer systems and, as of Thursday night, staff did not have access to email – while other functions also remained unavailable.
Match day operations for the Premier League club have not been impacted, with victories over West Brom and Istanbul Basaksehir going ahead as planned at Old Trafford in the wake of the attack, but The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is now helping to resolve the problem.
A spokesperson said: “The NCSC is aware of an incident affecting Manchester United Football Club and we are working with the organisation and partners to understand impact.”
In United’s initial statement on the attack the club said it was not “aware of any breach of personal data associated with our fans and customers” and that was reiterated on Thursday.
“Following the recent cyber attack on the club, our IT team and external experts secured our networks and have conducted forensic investigations,” United said in a statement.
The club said they would not comment on who was “responsible for this attack or the motives”. The statement continued: “This attack was by nature disruptive, but we are not currently aware of any fan data being compromised.
“Critical systems required for matches to take place at Old Trafford remained secure and games have gone ahead as normal.”
The club informed the Information Commissioner’s Office of the attack last week, as required, but could face a hefty fine from the data regulator if any fan or customer data is compromised as a result of the attack.
On November 13, Ticketmaster was issued a £1.25 million fine for failing to keep its customers’ personal data secure in a 2018 attack.
Earlier this month, the NCSC’s annual review showed the organisation defended the UK from more than 700 cyber attacks over the last year.
It noted a rise in the number of ransomware attacks – where attackers lock access to data until a ransom is paid – being deployed.
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United get their Premier League campaign back underway on Saturday when they welcome strugglers West Brom to Old Trafford.
The under-pressure Reds came from behind to beat Everton last time out thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for United.
The players are returning from the two-week international break, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to have as few injury and fitness concerns as possible among the stars coming back from international duty.
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The NCSC said it dealt with more than three times as many ransomware incidents compared with last year and noted that criminals were changing their approach during such attacks to increasingly threaten to leak information publicly unless payment is made.
United’s network has been affected by ransomware, the Daily Mail reported.
The NCSC’s report also revealed it had scanned more than one million IP addresses linked to the NHS for vulnerabilities as part of efforts to protect the health service.
Out of 723 cyber incidents between September 2019 and the end of August this year handled by the agency, 194 were directly linked to the coronavirus pandemic.